The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.
I had fun with this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. I love panna cotta, but I don’t make it nearly enough. It’s one of those desserts that I love to order at restaurants, but don’t typically think to make at home.
Since I have made panna cotta before, I decided to mix it up a bit this time with some new flavors. A few months ago, I had some sour cream anise ice cream at one of my favorite restaurants, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I just loved the flavors. Since I had some whole star anise in my pantry, I decided to try to use the same flavors in my panna cotta.
I wasn’t so sure about the florentine cookies, though. The recipe seemed to be a combination of a traditional florentine cookie and what I have always known to be “lace cookies” made with rolled oats. I didn’t think the chocolate in the florentine cookies would pair real well with my sour cream and anise panna cotta, so I decided to adapt a recipe for lace cookies from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion (one of my favorite cookie resources). I added a few of my favorite spices to the recipe for some extra flavor, too. Instead of milk chocolate or dark chocolate, I opted for white chocolate to sandwich and drizzle a few of the cookies.
To tie it all together, I paired the panna cotta and cookies with some homemade lemon curd and a few blueberries. It turned out to be the perfect combination of creamy and crunchy. The panna cotta had just the right amount of anise flavor, with a hint of tang from the sour cream. I loved the way it paired with the bright flavor of the lemon curd.
This is definitely a recipe I will make again. It’s elegant enough for a dinner party (especially if you pour the panna cotta into fancy glasses) but it’s also easy enough to enjoy any time. I ended up serving the panna cotta in a few different ways. I tried chilling some in ramekins that I unmolded and served on top of a cookie, and I also poured some into some small crystal glasses that I have (and rarely use… wedding gift). My favorite presentation for the panna cotta, though, was to layer it with the lemon curd in some small canning jars. I crumbled up a few of the cookies into the tops of the jars right before serving for some crunch. I just think it would be perfect for a picnic!
Sour Cream Anise Panna Cotta
(Adapted from the Daring Bakers recipe from Giada De Laurentiis)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half
- 1 cup cold milk (I used 2%)
- 1 packet (1/4 ounce) of unflavored powdered gelatin
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch Kosher salt
- 1 cup sour cream
Pour the heavy cream into a saucepan over medium heat. Add the star anise, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pot, and add the two halves of the vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat slightly, and cook for about 20 minutes to infuse the cream with the anise and vanilla.
Meanwhile, pour the milk into a bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let the gelatin soften in the milk for about 5 minutes.
Strain the star anise and the vanilla beans from the cream, and return the cream to the saucepan. Add the honey, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Cook, whisking occasionally, over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add the milk and gelatin and continue to whisk until dissolved, an additional 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the sour cream.
Cool slightly before pouring the liquid into glasses, ramekins, or jars. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Spiced Lace Cookies
(Adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oatmeal)
- 2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and work into the oats mixture. Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and stir until it has been evenly incorporated and a sticky dough forms.
Place teaspoons (yes, teaspoons… the cookies spread quite a bit) about 3 – 4 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7 – 8 minutes, until golden/amber in color. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Please note that the links to the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion provided on this page are Amazon affiliate links.